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Sunday, March 1, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 15.0° F  Light Snow
The Daily
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Alterra Coffee celebrates its new cafe in downtown Madison (slideshow)
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Intense curiosity among downtown residents and office workers about the arrival of an Alterra Coffee Roasters cafe in the ground floor of the Tenney Building was finally satisfied on Wednesday evening with a pre-opening party for neighbors and friends of the business. Just minutes before its unveiling, workers were putting finishing touches on the modern-yet-retro space, and adding brick-red awnings to the large windows looking onto the Capitol Square.

Wraps and sandwiches, cheese and dips, brownies and cookies, coffee drinks and the two house beers (One Tun Pale Ale and Cortado Imperial Stout) were on offer at the festivities. The cafe's full breakfast and lunch menu of breakfast items and lunch sandwiches and specials includes sandwiches and wraps, as well as burrito varieties for both meals. There are also a number of "homestyle" breakfast items, including granola, baked oatmeal and quiches. The daily specials are where many of the most intriguing menu items are found -- among them a Sumatra pork burrito, a harvest burrito and a sausage biscuit with eggs. The price points are generally in line with equivalent Capitol Square offerings.

The space uncovers some of the Tenney building's history with a nod to contemporary design trends. The front area is a sunroom/patio with windows that open to the street. The back area, which opens into the building's lobby is more of a retreat with leather chairs and a couch. In between is the largest space, with the counter (including stations for food, espresso and beer) dominating the interior wall, and facing retail islands, tables, and more window-side seating.

Co-owner Lincoln Fowler says that Alterra is intent on having the cafe contribute to the life of the street -- hence the open windows and a moveable wall/door hybrid that will keep its front are patio-like while maintaining a climate-controlled interior.

The cafe officially opens at 6 a.m. Friday, April 5.

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